A growing number of American Jews are calling for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel. This is not because they hate Zionism or wish for the destruction of the Jewish state; these calls are precisely BECAUSE of their love for Israel and the obvious need for a 2 state solution that the present day Israeli administration is in fear of ruining perhaps irrevocably. Americans should not be supporting the oppressive actions of a government not interested in finding peace…a government content to occupy the Palestinian people in a shrinking, borderless, apartheid state. The current direction is untenable.
I’m very critical of the actions of the Israeli government and find it quite off-putting when I observe knee-jerk reactions from those who call any criticism of Israel – no matter how responsible and logical – an act of antisemitism. To call out Israel for her international crimes and unwillingness to follow U.N. international law is not antisemitic and for those who would use that terminology to criticize Israel’s critics…I would say quite bluntly – you’ve lost already lost the debate if that’s your only defense of Israel.
Peter Beinart calls for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel:
Boycotts could help to change that. Already, prominent Israeli writers like David Grossman, Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua have refused to visit the settlement of Ariel. We should support their efforts because persuading companies and people to begin leaving nondemocratic Israel, instead of continuing to flock there, is crucial to keeping the possibility of a two-state solution alive.
Others may object to boycotting settlements near the green line, which will likely be incorporated into Israel in the event of a peace deal. But what matters is not the likelihood that a settler will one day live in territory where all people enjoy the right to citizenship regardless of ethnicity, but the fact that she does not live there yet. (That’s why the boycott should not apply to East Jerusalem, which Israel also occupied in 1967, since Palestinians there at least have the ability to gain citizenship, even if they are not granted it by birth.)
If moderate settlers living near the green line resent being lumped in with their more ideologically driven counterparts deep in occupied territory, they should agitate for a two-state solution that would make possible their incorporation into democratic Israel. Or they should move.
Dana Goldstein at the Nation defends Peter Beinart:
I am grateful for this book. Younger American Jewish writers like myself, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Spencer Ackerman and Kiera Feldman have been writing for six years about our increasing alarm regarding the Israeli occupation, only to be derided as the “juice box mafia” by our elders. Beinart is a lot harder to belittle. He is the former editor of The New Republic—a magazine not exactly known for progressive foreign policy positions—and an observant Jew who once supported the Iraq war. He has demonstrated an admirable ability to rethink his opinions in the face of evidence, and as a member of Generation X, he serves as an ideal interlocutor between younger Jews and our Baby Boomer parents, many of whom continue to see Israel through the rose-colored glasses of their own youth, when the Jewish state was far less established and more threatened by its neighbors than it is today.
Daniel Levy at the Atlantic responds to Peter Beinart:
Meanwhile, Peter Beinart called for a boycott on any good produced in Israeli settlements, to be matched by re-investing in “Israel proper.” His column stirred up an even more intense debate, some of it quite vitriolic. Perhaps Beinart will trigger some soul-searching in Jewish communities in and outside of Israel. He should: the choices are not as simple and the prospects for progress not as bleak as is often assumed.
Most of Israel’s most domestically prominent and globally renowned cultural icons have issued similar declarations in their own fields. A group of actors and playwrights, refused to perform at the only theater in an Israeli settlement (in Ariel), a boycott supported by other artists. Hundreds of Israeli teachers refused to join a new (and highly settler-sympathetic) school tour program to Hebron, sponsored by the education ministry, asserting, “if we are called to accompany such tours, we will not do so.” When Israel’s Knesset, (the most right-wing in the country’s history) passed legislation making it illegal to call for a boycott of “any area under the state of Israel’s control” (read: settlements), Israeli liberals called for an immediate settlement boycott. Israel’s longest established, least-controversial and most Zionist of peace movements — Peace Now – led this campaign, including its most successful Facebook campaign to date.
Andrew Sullivan talks about the big picture:
My fear is simply this: that younger, more liberal American Jews will continue to drift away from interest in an increasingly indefensible Greater Israel (as they should); that the older generation has enough money and clout and paranoia to prevent any external pressure being brought on Israel to halt its assisted suicide in the foreseeable future; and that the Greater Israel lobby certainly has enough clout, when added to its total embrace by the GOP and its evangelical base, to defend all Israel’s future wars and periodic “lawn-mowing” of regional rivals.
Meanwhile – Politico is reporting on a new poll that shows 2 out of 3 American Jews support President Obama for re-election. They’re not in love with him necessarily but they really don’t like Mitt Romney; this sentiment parallels the rest of the American voting public:
Among Jewish voters, 51 percent point to the economy as the top issue facing the country – with only 4 percent identifying Israel. Israel also did not register as second-tier concern for most American Jews, with only 5 percent identifying it as the second-most important issue.
“There has been some speculation about possible movements toward the GOP among Jewish voters, but the current state of the race suggests that this year’s Jewish vote will resemble past elections,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director said in a statement. “The likely Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, is unpopular among most Jewish voters, and the GOP’s signature campaign proposal—repealing the recent health care law—is opposed by nearly six-in-ten American Jews.”
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